SAN DIEGO COUNTY, California — Many of San Diego's most vulnerable residents are, for various reasons, in situations where they can't to locations where COVID-19 vaccines are being distributed. Monday, thanks to CVS pharmacies, the shots started coming to them.
“I am very excited about this vaccine,” said Cheryl Wilson, CEO of St. Paul’s Senior Services. “I think it is the answer to this COVID pandemic.”
Wilson says many of their residents remember the Polio outbreak in the 1950s, so they’re ready to roll up their sleeves for this vaccine. “They understand this and they're excited to receive the vaccine and they're spreading the word to our employees too," she said. "It's very, very helpful.”
St. Paul's is one of more than 15,000 skilled nursing and assisted living facilities across the state that registered with CVS to participate. The pharmacy hopes to vaccinate nearly 700,000 patients through the program.
“What we'll do is send teams in,” said Dr. Troy Brennan with CVS Health. “They'll have full Protective equipment, so-called PPE, and have the vaccines with them.”
The CVS team will come back in three weeks to administer a second shot of the vaccine and give the first shot to any new patients and staff. Then they'll come back a third time to make sure everyone has their second dose. “These vaccines and their effectiveness have been a game-changer,” said Dr. Brennan.
“Vaccinating those most vulnerable among us is critical to fighting this virus,” said Governor Newsom. “By leveraging CVS and Walgreens resources, we can effectively deploy vaccines to residents and staff at our long-term care facilities, which are at higher risk of Covid transmission – and do it at no cost to the state or local government.”
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But if people can't get the shot, the vaccine does no good.
This is why St Paul's is so happy that CVS and Walgreens have partnered with the federal government to bring the shots to those who really need it.
“Oh my gosh, for our skilled nursing facility residents, it is amazing,” Wilson said. “There is no way we could drag them all out to another location off-site. It's [also] convenient for the staff. Now they don't have to take time off from work or search for a place to get the vaccine."
That said, St. Paul's knows there is still a long way to go before COVID-19 is no longer a concern.
“Even after the vaccine, people are going to be encouraged to wear their masks, obviously wash their hands and distance as much as possible, but there will be a sense of relief to our employees to know that their vulnerability is greatly decreased,” Wilson said.
CVS also has an agreement with the federal government to provide vaccinations to the general public. A start date for that still hasn't been announced, but at this point, officials believe it could happen in late April or early May.